The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino

October Chelsea Walkabout

Photo by Norman Borden . Source:
Norman Borden 2014

Oh, Chelsea!

Like almost everything else about New York these days, Chelsea isn’t what it used to be. The gallery scene isn’t the only focal point of the neighborhood anymore — the High Line rules. While some galleries move out, others move in. It’s New York’s yin and yang at work. Still, the energy on the surrounding streets on opening nights is palpable; the sidewalk traffic is there, new work is up on the walls. See and be seen. Here’s a brief summary of five new shows worth a look. And if you get a chance, take a walk on the High Line.

Cynthia Greig at Fred Torres Gallery

Photo by Cynthia Greig . Source:
Cynthia Greig

It took a while, but once I had my “aha” moment, I could better appreciate the concept behind the images and video in Cynthia Greig’s exhibition, “The Nearest Distance.” These were images of the line between the floor surface of particular galleries, i.e. Marlborough, Matthew Marks, Peter Fetterman, etc. and the wall itself! Greig aims to show how patching and painting the gallery’s wall evokes the texture of an acrylic or oil painting. Or as the exhibition catalog says, “The wall becomes as pleasurable and satisfying to look at as the art that hangs on it.” Each to his own.

Jean-Luc Mylayne at Gladstone Gallery

Photo by Jean-Luc Mylayne . Source:
Jean-Luc Mylayne

Despite the show’s title “Chaos” there’s calm in French photographer Jean-Luc Mylayne’s thirteen very large format color pictures of birds in their outdoor environments, the first of his series that he’s photographed in the United States. The calm demeanor of the birds is said to be a result of the artist’s process – he inserts himself into the birds’ environment for weeks or even months at a time so they become accustomed to his presence. Then he takes a single photograph. Voila!

Robert Voit at ClampArt

Photo by Robert Voit . Source:
Robert Voit

Those tall trees in Robert Voit’s fifteen color photographs from the “New Trees” series aren’t trees at all –- they’re cell phone towers disguised as trees or cacti to be more compatible with their urban or rural environments. But most look artificial and awkward, the attempted camouflage revealing just another effect of technology on society. Also in the show is “The Alphabet Of New Plants,” which was inspired by Karl Blossfeldt’s work in 1928. Voit has updated it with his delicate close-ups of artificial plants. Sweet.

Arnaud Claass at 601Artspace

Photo by Arnaud Claass . Source:
Arnaud Claass
If you aren’t familiar with Arnaud Claass’s work, as I wasn’t, then this 40-year retrospective at 601Artspace is a strong introduction. As the first major exhibition in the United States of this French photographer/writer’s work, it includes some 60 color and black and white images that highlight the wide range of his work, from collages and conceptual pieces to urban and rural landscapes. While clearly showing the influence of Gowin, Callahan, Frank and Frederick Sommer, it is a thoroughly engaging exhibition.

Marc Riboud at the Rubin Museum of Art

Photo by Marc Riboud . Source:
Marc Riboud

Marc Riboud joined Magnum in 1952 and the rest of his career, as they say, is history. Encouraged by his mentor Cartier-Bresson, Riboud traveled through Asia from 1955 to 1958, engaging new cultures and using his camera to capture glimpses of everyday life in Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, China and Japan. The Rubin Museum’s stunning exhibition of about 100 black and white images is a well-organized chronicle of his journeys, and includes some of his most iconic work such as “Forbidden City” (1957). Beth Citron, Assistant Curator, remarked, “The exhibition provides a broad lens to through which to look at trans-regional Asian dynamics and history in these critical years.”

Go!

October Chelsea Walkabout by Norman Borden

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